During my time at Dropbox, the company was undergoing a strategic transition, upgrading its core offering from file storage to work collaboration.
As part of design leadership, I helped grow the design team from 15 to 80 people. I led design for the core Dropbox apps on desktop, mobile and web. Later I led design for Dropbox Paper and other new collaboration tools.
The core Dropbox apps on desktop, mobile and web was in 2014 primarily a way to access your Dropbox files on all your devices. Inspired by how our most active users were using Dropbox as a live workspace, we upgraded the core apps to better support collaboration.
Most of this work was done in 2014 and 2015 and these are some of the things we launched:
- Dropbox on your Windows phones and tablets (2015)
- Dropbox for Android (2015)
- New image previews on Dropbox.com (2015)
- Open shared links in the Dropbox mobile app (2015)
- Find what you need faster with Recents (2015)
- Dropbox badge and commenting (2015)
- Document previews on the web (2015)
- Rename files and folders with our latest iOS app (2014)
- Document previews on Android (2014)
This was a time of intense product development and several major projects was started at the same time. We wanted to provide transparency into what designers were working on so during Hack Week a small team built Picasso, an internal app for sharing WIP design work.
A redesigned dropbox.com
In 2015, Dropbox was developing a suite of apps for productivity, sharing and collaboration. As these apps went into beta, we wanted to expose them on dropbox.com to our 500 million users.
But the design system and navigation of our website was not designed to support a budding app suite. Teams ended up putting their apps in the dropbox.com navigation where they thought it made sense (often at the top 😘).
Additionally, each team had been designing in isolation so the variation in visual and interaction design patterns for the new apps was high.
The app teams came to us asking what the plan was to get their app into the main nav on dropbox.com. But there was no plan. So we had to come up with one.
Our goal was to create new navigation and design principles that would let new apps be exposed on dropbox.com and help the product shift to work collaboration while not getting in the way for the core Dropbox use cases.
Normally I’m not a fan of going on vision quests that come out with a perfect design that never actually is. In this case there was a lot of FUD internally so we worked with a freelance designer to create a vision of Dropbox as an app suite. It was the seed that got the project going and made people believe it was possible and desirable.
We put apps at the top level to clearly describe the jobs-to-be-done for Dropbox. A second navigation level lets each app use the whole viewport, while letting users go back and forth between apps effortlessly.
The new dropbox.com eventually released to GA in early 2017 and hit its goal to keep the KPIs for the website stable. Check out the launch post and announcement of the new product direction for more info.
In 2016 I led Dropbox’s early stage work collaboration efforts, including Dropbox Paper and Dropbox Chime, a work messenger app. We took Dropbox Paper from closed alpha to public launch, making it a center piece of the new Dropbox app suite.